Annual Report 2022 – Q&A with Board Chair Elworth (Brent) Williams, Jr.

 Board Chair Elworth (Brent) Williams, Jr. of Wayfinder Family Services Why is Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) a priority at Wayfinder and a pillar in the current strategic plan?
Wayfinder added “accessibility” to what most organizations refer to as DEI to maintain our longtime focus on offering opportunity to people with disabilities. When Wayfinder’s work expanded to incorporate mental health, adoption and child welfare, as well as vision loss and other disabilities, we began serving more diverse communities—in ethnicity, culture, age, type of disability, child welfare involvement and trauma needs. They all deserve equal access to economic well-being and better health. Wayfinder is passionately committed to this effort. That said, I would like to get to the point where we don’t have to call IDEA out as a pillar of our strategic plan. I’d like IDEA to be second nature.

Is Wayfinder affected by the mental health crisis?
As the pandemic taught us, you never know what is coming around the bend. We have to remain flexible and nimble and stay focused on our principles and goals. In Wayfinder’s 2022-23 fiscal year, the board and staff are starting a new strategic planning process, with substantial input from our clients and partners. The 2019 strategic plan served Wayfinder very well during the pandemic and racial reckoning that began in 2020 because the overarching goals were true to what Wayfinder is at its core.

For example, Wayfinder continued delivering whatever assistance families needed during stay- at-home orders, from masks to food to children’s educational materials. With support from our staff Inclusion Council, the organization continued to integrate inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility—IDEA—throughout the organization. Also, the staff Equity Council will address clients’ complex barriers to socioeconomic mobility and long-term health. I am confident the new strategic plan will pave the way for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Was there a notable achievement this year that you’d like to mention?
The Los Angeles Business Journal named Wayfinder’s senior leadership team the Nonprofit Team of the Year in 2022. The award mentioned their effective teamwork and extraordinary impact, especially during the pandemic. I know Wayfinder’s exceptional senior leaders are grateful for this award, but they give substantial credit to their staff.

Read Q&A with CEO Miki Jordan

March 30, 2023